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no doubt it is owing to the castigation which he and other writers of taste and virtue have bestowed upon it, that it is at present tolerably free from gross indecency, rant, and profaneness. It was then common for ladies of character to go in a mask ihe first night of a new play, as they expected to be put out of countenance. Steele had a great share in this reformation, as well by his own comedies as by his strictures on those of others.
Not content with the incidental and indirect service done to virtue and religion in the ge, neral strain of his writings, the Saturday papers through many of the volumes are devoted by Addison expressly to that purpose. The · sentiments of rational and liberal devotion which breathe through them, are blended with the speculations of philosophy and the paintings of a fine imagination. His religious affections break forth at a fine sun-set, the view of the starry heavens, and other circumstances proper to impress a mind of feeling. Of these a portion are presented to the reader ; perhaps not so many as, upon a vague recollection, he will imagine might have been collected: but the truth is, we abound so much in excellent
and the ways of it, with a moderate share of sense, very little information, and a large portion of what many would call salutary prejudices. By the first paper we are prepared to expect a man whose singularities proceed from good sense and an original cast of thought; a kind of humourist, not unlike the elder Shandy; but the singularities of Addison's Sir Roger proceed from rusticity, and the prejudicts of a confined education, operating indeed
upon a most benevolent and friendly heart. His character is set in a new light, in a paper written by Dr. Aikin, in the Monthly Magazine for February 1800. It is there observed, that this character, though meant to be a favourite, is also meant as a vehicle of satire upon the character of the country gentleman, which Addison has more openly held up to ridicule in the country squire of his Freeholder: they are extremely different with regard to the amiableness of their characters, but they have the same national and party prejudices, and are both intended to exhibit inferiority to the more cultured inhabitant of the town, and to fasten a ridicule
which at that time was the country party. In Sir Roger de Coverley, however, this design is subservient to that of
drawing an amiable and worthy character. Sir Roger's benevolence, hospitality, piety, and honest open cheerfulness, win our warmest affections; and if we often smile at, we always love him. The reserved, sagacious, and thoughtful character of the Spectator contrasts very well with the simplicity and turn for active sports of the knight. With regard to his passion for the widow, and the effect it is said to have had upon him, it may be doubted whether it forms a natural feature in a character like his. Minds that expand themselves in feelings of cheel good will, and acts of general benevolence, and are at the same time destitute of those nicer discriminations of taste that influence particular predilections, are perhaps not very likely to have the colour of their whole lives affected by a hopeless passion. But Addison has had little to do with that part of his character. Opposed to Sir Roger is Sir Andrew Freeport, a London merchant. Trade, though rising fast, or rather already risen into consequence, was despised by the country gentry. Addison has frequently taken occasion to set the trading part of the community, who were nearly all whigs, in a respectable light, and to show the connection of commerce with science and liberal
principles. Many other characters, in the course of the work, are delineated with great spirit and humour; and the Spectators are by this alone advantageously distinguished from all the periodical papers which have succeeded them.
Thus various are the merits of an author, whose fame can only perish with the language in which he wrote. As a critic, it is not profound learning or metaphysical subtlety, but exquisite taste; as a philosopher, it is not deep research, but the happy art of unfolding an idea, and placing it in the most attractive light; as a moralist, it is not that energy which rouses and carries away the soul in the vortex of its own enthusiasm ; nor the novelty of systen, resulting from bold original ideas, but an eloquence urbane, persuasive, and temperate, the alliance of the heart with the imagination, which distinguishes the page of Addi
In strokes of delicate humour and refined wit he is inexhaustible ; but he has given us po instance of the pathetic, except in his story of Theodosius and Constantia.
To the other authors of these periodical papers we are indebted for many pleasing essays. Pierce, bishop of Rochester, has some ingenious papers of the serious kind. The un
fortunate Budgell, the relation of Addison, wrote many papers: his style often comes so near that of his friend and master as to do him great honour, were it not said that Addison added so many touches of his own as to make Budgell's property
doubtful. He uses the signature of X. Tickell, who in many of his works presented a fainter reflexion of Addison, was one of the set ; bụt his papers have no mark. Parnell wrote the vision of the Grotto of Grief, and the Palace of Vanity. Mr. Byrom wrote the popular piece, My -time, Oye Muses, and some papers on dreaming. Most of the interesting stories are Steele's; and the greater part of those papers that paint the manners of the town. Steele had a flowing pen, but his style is negligent; and though he has endeavoured to serve the cause of virtue, particularly in his strictures on duelling, then very common, and gaming, yet his morals have neither the dignity nor the purity of those of his coadjutor. “The snuffers (says bishop Latimer) should be of pure gold.' Such was not Steele, whose weaknesses and faults drew upon him the reprehension of his own better judgment. He was a character vibrating between virtue and vice, but he